What Is a Three-Wheel Vehicle?

Officially classed as motorcycles since they have fewer than four wheels, three-wheel vehicles either have one wheel at the front and two at the rear, or two at the front and one at the rear. Trikes, reverse-trikes, ATVs, Tuk Tuks and mobility scooters are all examples of three-wheel vehicles. There are also cars and utility vehicles that are built with three wheels.

Motor trikes, built from kit-converted motorcycles, are particularly popular with older bikers who prefer the stability and comfort of riding on three wheels. Trike riders do not have to lean into bends or hold up a heavy motorcycle at stoplights. Reverse-trikes like the Polaris Slingshot, with two wheels at the front and one at the rear, resemble small open-top sports cars.

Three-wheel cars with fully enclosed cabs, such as the Elio, generally have two wheels at the front and one to the rear. However, Tango Trikes & Scooters offers a range of passenger, commercial and utility trikes with the single wheel at the front. Tango's inventory includes box vans, pick-up trucks, dump trucks and tuk tuks, based on the traditional three-wheeled bicycle taxi used in cities worldwide that can carry up to six passengers.

The smallest type of three-wheel motor vehicle is the mobility scooter. ParentGiving.com offers a number of electric mobility scooters designed for individual drivers.

The three-wheeled cars have been popular for a number of reasons including that most of them are classified as a motorcycle and they are cheaper than an typical car. BMW, Morgan Motors and Reliant made versions of three-wheeled cars after World War II when there was a need for cheap, stable transportation that could carry a whole family built with the materials available.